Why it’s best to get (and preserve) a no-annual-fee bank card

Many shoppers begin constructing their credit score by opening bank cards that don’t cost annual charges. That is a reasonable option to begin constructing your credit score historical past and begin incomes rewards with out having to pay for an costly card yr after yr.

As time passes, some of us could ditch that no-annual-fee card in favor of one other product with greater reward potential and extra advantages. However because the bank card market turns into ever extra aggressive, there are numerous causes to maintain a no-annual-fee card round.

First, many more moderen no-annual-fee playing cards supply nice advantages and points-earning alternatives on par with premium playing cards. It might be value retaining one round to up your on a regular basis earnings. Closing a bank card may also have unintended repercussions on future card purposes, as every financial institution or issuer approves new bank card purposes in accordance with its personal unpublished guidelines.

Let us take a look at the circumstances once you may need to get and maintain on to a no-annual-fee card.

It is often simpler to qualify for a card with out an annual payment

Versus extra premium merchandise with annual charges that may value tons of of {dollars}, just like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Specific, it’s typically simpler for first-time candidates or shoppers new to credit score to use and be authorized for a bank card with no annual payment.


In truth, many no-annual-fee playing cards are particularly made for people with no, poor or recently-established credit score. No-annual-fee playing cards are additionally a good way to get began with credit score and dip your toe into main rewards applications without having a superb credit score rating or committing to a excessive annual payment.

Construct your credit score historical past and increase your rating

Carrying a bank card may also help you construct your credit score historical past and, thus, your total credit score rating. And by credit score rating, we’re speaking about your FICO rating, the measure by which most monetary establishments will choose a client’s creditworthiness.

5 fundamental elements decide your FICO rating. The primary is cost historical past — mainly, whether or not you pay your payments on time and in full. This accounts for 35% of your total rating. Utilizing a bank card and paying it off each month may also help increase this metric over time.

The issue with the second-most weight (30%) is credit score utilization, or the quantity of debt you set in your bank card in comparison with your total line of credit score. You sometimes enhance your complete credit score line by opening a number of new playing cards.

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Conversely, for those who shut a bank card account, you chop its credit score restrict out of your total line of credit score and thus elevate your debt-to-credit ratio. This one motive alone — retaining your credit score restrict as excessive as doable as a counterweight in opposition to your bank card use — might be vital sufficient in itself to maintain a no-annual-fee card open yr after yr.

Even if your credit score is high, errors on your report may still be impacting it. Image courtesy of scyther5 via Getty Images.

One other 15% of your total rating relies on the size of your credit score historical past. Which means retaining a card open and in good standing for years, and even a long time, will enhance this portion of your FICO components. Hanging onto an older bank card account can reduce the impact of opening new strains of credit score by appearing as a stability to youthful accounts.

The ultimate 20% is break up evenly between new credit score (which elements any latest strains of credit score opened into your rating) and the combination of credit score (which considers what varieties of debt you will have in your report — mortgages, automobile loans, pupil debt, bank cards and extra).

Getting a no-annual-fee card, utilizing it responsibly and retaining it open can all positively influence main elements in your credit score rating, making a lot of these playing cards a strong device for constructing, sustaining and bettering your credit score in the long term.

It would not value you something

One of the crucial persuasive factors in favor of retaining a bank card with no annual payment is that it would not value something to maintain in your pockets yr after yr. Simply be sure it is thought of an lively account through the use of it for a small buy each couple of months. Not having to search out methods to make use of a profit to offset a card’s annual payment makes it a lot simpler to justify retaining it round.

Diversified incomes classes

Many premium rewards playing cards, and positively a whole lot of the airline and lodge cobranded ones, supply related bonus-earning classes the place you’ll be able to accrue a number of factors or miles per greenback on purchases like journey, airfare, motels or eating.

Bank cards with no annual charges are geared towards extra normal spending and infrequently award bonus factors for on a regular basis purchases like groceries or fuel. That is why it’d make sense to carry onto a bank card with no annual payment, even if in case you have a complimentary card with a payment from the identical issuer.

Among the finest examples is combining the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked and the Chase Freedom Limitless to earn bonus factors on almost each buy.


You possibly can rack up Final Rewards factors rapidly with the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked, because of its 2 factors per greenback bonus-earning on a variety of journey purchases and eating worldwide. It has a $95 annual payment, however can also be providing new cardholders 60,000 bonus factors after you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening.

It is also an amazing selection to make use of internationally because it waives overseas transaction charges.

The Chase Freedom Limitless, with no annual payment, earns a flat 1.5% money again (1.5 factors per greenback) (redeemable as money again at a price of 1 cent apiece) on all purchases. So you should utilize it for all the acquisition classes through which the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked doesn’t earn a bonus and nonetheless get an honest price of return.

In case you have simply the Chase Freedom Limitless by itself, your factors can solely be redeemed for money again. However suppose you will have a card just like the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked (or the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Enterprise Most well-liked Credit score Card, for that matter) that earns full-fledged, transferable Final Rewards factors.

In that case, you’ll be able to mix the factors you earn along with your Freedom card with these out of your different accounts, they usually turn out to be transferable, too.

Closing a card may preclude you from different gives

Every financial institution or issuer has its personal set of sophisticated (typically unpublished) bank card utility guidelines. Not solely is that this complicated, however it additionally implies that closing a bank card might influence your future purposes.


Some banks will limit you from making use of for an extra or new product primarily based on once you opened or shut down a earlier bank card account. Citi is the obvious instance. For example, the applying web page for the Citi Premier® Card (see charges and costs) states:

“Bonus ThankYou® Factors should not out there if in case you have obtained a brand new account bonus for a Citi Premier account previously 48 months.”

So for those who had the Citi Premier Card open inside the final 4 years you’ll be ineligible for the Citi Premier’s sign-up bonus. That may be motive sufficient to maintain the older card open, a minimum of till your utility for the brand new one is authorized.

One other notorious restriction is Chase’s 5/24 rule. Shoppers who’ve opened 5 or extra private bank cards within the previous 24 months will typically not be authorized for a brand new Chase card. The financial institution additionally appears to restrict the general variety of its playing cards for which sure folks could be authorized.

Low or no introductory APR

One of many elementary guidelines for creditworthiness and a accountable rewards technique is paying off your stability in full each month. As talked about above, that is as a result of your debt-to-credit utilization ratio is a large a part of figuring out your credit score rating.

Once you carry a stability, this could drag down your total credit score report. However life occurs, and generally, carrying a stability for just a few months is inevitable. That is when no-annual-fee playing cards could be lifesavers.


Instead of flashy sign-up bonuses, many no-annual-fee playing cards supply new members 0% APR curiosity on new purchases and stability transfers for a set period of time (sometimes wherever from 12 to 18 months).

Once more, this could solely be a final resort. You must plan to repay your stability in full each month to keep away from being hit with late charges, excessive rates of interest and probably damaging your credit score rating. But when carrying a stability is a part of your short-term technique, then a bank card with no annual payment (and an honest introductory APR supply) could be the best choice.

Associated: Greatest 0% APR bank cards

Nice no-annual-fee choices

Given how numerous {the marketplace} for rewards bank cards has turn out to be lately, it ought to come as no shock that even merchandise with no annual charges have raised their incomes potential and improved their advantages packages. Try TPG’s information to the finest no-annual-fee bank cards for a few of the prime gives out there proper now.

Backside line

No-annual-fee rewards playing cards are glorious choices for people who’re simply beginning out with credit score or in search of methods to enhance their total credit score rating. Retaining these playing cards open yr after yr is an effective technique to keep up that rating and doesn’t require critical dedication, because you pay nothing to maintain the cardboard annually.

The variety of nice decisions on the market additionally means that there’s possible a superb match in your wants, it doesn’t matter what your spending habits and journey targets are. Earlier than making use of for any card, evaluate its phrases and situations and skim up on how one can maximize its advantages — particularly if it could actually assist you fill gaps in your present incomes technique.

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